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Lee Townsend

Assistant Professor

Civil, Environmental, and Biomedical Engineering

College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture
860.768.4763 UT 236

PhD, University of New Hampshire

MA, University of New Hampshire

AB, Smith College

I really enjoy creating the spreadsheets used by CETA administration as they combine programming, graphic design for a good user interface and user experience, and they are useful for the staff.

The only thing missing in the above is my passion for music. I have been in choirs since fourth grade. I am a traditional music performer as well as small-choir singer. My current folk music venue is Unitarian Universalist services where a friend and I sing twelve or so songs with reflections, interpretations, and more information about the songs and their meaning to us. The congregations seem to really like what we do.  

I play clawhammer style banjo, folk and ragtime blues style acoustic guitar, tenor recorder, and sing in Celeste Sondato, the Hartt Community Division adult choir. I love Renaissance music and traditional Afro- and Anglo- American music. 

I have volunteered as the Folk Legacy emailer since one owner died in 2009. His widow is vision impaired so has not yet dealt with computers. Folk Legacy is a smallish traditional music record label with roughly 150 albums. Their music is available as downloads on iTunes and Amazon. It feels good to help keep my music alive.


Academic Experience

University of Hartford, College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture

Assistant Professor of Mathematics, 1997 - Present

  • Taught undergraduate courses in engineering physics, algebra-based physics, optics, pre-calculus, calculus, and differential equations. Taught a graduate course in laser optical system design.
  • Developed a scheduling database program in MS Excel, hence cross-platform, to identify instructor and room schedules and conflicts, graph weekly schedules for any list of courses, and to identify curriculum-specific course offerings by major and semester. The program reads the data from Banner’s Class Search.
  • Developed an Excel program using parsed Registrar’s reports to check student grades in prerequisite courses as well as ensuring they are taking co-requisite courses.
  • Coauthored an Excel program to parse Registrar’s reports to generate suggested actions (Dean’s List, probation, warnings) for over 800 students so that piles of paper reports were no longer necessary.

Chair, Academic Standings Committee, 2004 - Present

Chair, Audio Engineering Technology, 2001 - 2002

Associate Dean, Ward College of Technology, 1999 - 2002

  • Responsible for scheduling of all courses. Developed a scheduling database program in MS Access to identify instructor, room, and student curriculum conflicts.

Director, NASA's Connecticut Space Grant College Consortium, 1999 - 2002

Adjunct Professor of Mathematics and Physics, 1995 - 1997

  • Taught undergraduate courses in engineering physics, algebra-based physics, modern physics, pre-calculus, and linear algebra for a total of 12 courses and one laboratory.


University of Connecticut

Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995

  • Designed and taught graduate courses in Optical Systems Engineering and Quantum Mechanics for Electrical Engineers. Served on advisory committees for several M.S. and Ph.D. candidates.


United Technologies Research Center

Research Engineer, 1981 - 1993

  • Member of the UTRC Learning Center Board Of Directors, 1992 - 1993
  • Co-founder and coordinator of UTRC Macintosh Users Group, 1988 - 1991
  • Co-taught Introduction to Macintosh - UTRC, 1988 - 1989
  • UTRC Learning Center instructor: Introduction to Lasers, 1990, and Optical Design, 1991
  • Co-founder and participant in study group at UTRC in lasers and electro-optics, 1988 - 1992


Industrial Experience

Member, Image Solutions Group, LLC, 1997-2007

  • Responsible for consulting in the fields of electromagnetics, lasers, and optical design.
  • Developed software to predict the performance of electromagnetic waves through a grating.
  • Analyzed a potential new type of laser design for optimal performance.
  • Analyzed a design of laser safety glasses for technical and commercial merit.

Vice President and Chief Scientist, Advanced Optical Equipment and Systems Corporation, 1994-1997

  • Responsible for theoretical and computational analysis of electromagnetic, thermodynamic, and hydrodynamic phenomena.
  • Shared in the design of the gas flow subsystem and commercialization of the entire system of a mid-power gas dynamic industrial iodine laser.
  • Developed a 1-D closed cycle hydro- and thermodynamic computer code for a refrigerator-like gas flow subsystem design.
  • Co-author of the AOESC Business Plan. 

Research Engineer, United Technologies Corporation, 1986-1993 

  • Responsible for theoretical and computational analysis of electromagnetic phenomena, primarily in the area of lasers and optics.
  • Developed and produced efficient and experimentally validated software tools for analysis of these systems with emphasis on ease-of-use and reduction of complex analysis to physically intuitive results.
  • Performed as task manager of the theory task of a multimillion dollar government contract.

Sr. Analytical Engineer, United Technologies Corporation, 1976 - 86

  • Updated, maintained and documented UTC's FFT based wave-optics computer codes.
  • Conducted computer modeling for high power laser experiments.



  • Developed, implemented and validated an algebraic methodology for propagating a nonideal laser beam's 90% power radius through a complex optical system, thus allowing for rapid design of a wave optics system without the previous requirement of always running large simulation codes to account for diffraction.
  • Developed, implemented and validated methods for highly efficient computer modeling f laser systems and the correspondence of these models with the three-dimensional physical world (details not approved for public release).
  • Developed and validated a short series solution for the adaptively-corrected non-linear thermal blooming interaction of high Fresnel number laser beams with the atmosphere, thus eliminating need for 3D computer code analysis.
  • Applied a group theoretical analysis to coupled laser systems resulting in eigenmode configuration identification hence minimizing the required number of lengthy computer runs in a test matrix.
  • Analyzed the time-dependent thermal properties of laser-irradiated material for hotspot tracking.
  • Developed a short series solution to the determination of low Fresnel number laser modes and propagation.
  • Provided theoretical support to an experimental program predicting and measuring the electromagnetic properties of heterogeneous anisotropic ceramic materials. Resulting code was validated by experiment.


  • Optical Society of America (OSA)
  • Society of Photo-Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
  • American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
  • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM)


  • Reviewer for the Optical Society of America, 1988 - Present
  • Reviewer for the SPIE., 2010

Research and Awards

Research interests

  • Laser resonator design
  • Optical system design
  • Visualization of the solutions of dynamics equations using Adobe Flash
  • Modern web site design and implementation
  • Color theory


  • OSA Senior Member designation 2012
  • UTRC Great Job Award 1990
  • UTOS Achievement Award 1988
  • UTOS Outstanding Service Award 1988
  • NSF Traineeship 1968-1972

Publications and Patents


Milanovic, I., Eppes, T. A., Girouard, J. & Townsend, L. (2010). “Retention-oriented curricular design.” Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 7(11), 41 - 46.

Girouard, J., Milanovic, I., Segal, N., & Townsend, L. (2006). “Retention strategies in smaller technology majors.” ASEE, 2006-581, 7 pages.

Townsend, S. S. & Segal, N. D. (2003). “The use of the visual-spatial intelligence in the solution of elementary physics problems.” ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2003, Session 2480.

Segal, N. D. & Townsend, S. S. (2002). “Teaching problem solving in an integrated mathematics-writing curriculum.”ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2002, Session 2793, Paper 970.

Segal, N. D. & Townsend, S. S. (2001). “Word problems and problems with words: A possible solution.” ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2001, Session 2248, Paper 902.

Townsend, S. S. & Canistraro, H. (1999). “Recruiting and retaining faculty and managing diverse majors in four year schools of engineering technology.” ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 1999, Session 2648.



Scalable spherical laser

LaComb, R. & Townsend, S. S. (2009). U.S. Patent No. 7,492,805. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

High Power Photolytic Iodine Laser

Cunningham, P. R. et. al. (1999). U.S. Patent No. 5,889,807. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Continuous Wave Photolytic Iodine Laser

Townsend, S. S. & Cunningham, P. R. (1998). U.S. Patent No. 5,802,093. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Linear Polarization Control of High Power Lasers

Palma, G. E., Townsend, S. S., Parasco, A., & Benda, J. A. (1993). U.S. Patent No. 5,179,563. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

High Power Laser Having Staged Laser Adjoint Pulsed Feedback

Townsend, S. S., Cunningham, P. R., & Foley, J. S. (1992). U.S. Patent No. 5,173,918. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Broadband Optical Limiter with Sacrificial Mirror to Prevent Irradiation of a Sensor System by High Intensity Laser Radiation

Meinzer, R. A. & Townsend, S. S. (1992). U.S. Patent No. 5,153,425. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.